Cave-In Hazards Lead to Heavy Fines for Chicago Construction Company
B & T Underground Inc., a Chicago-based construction company, was cited for a wide array of safety violations after inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) saw employees working in an unsupported trench.
Are Trenches Dangerous?
When workers are excavating a trench, falls and cave-ins can lead to serious injury. Workers can suffer broken bones or brain injuries even from minor falls, and employees buried in cave-ins can be crushed or smothered before help arrives.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires every trench deeper than five feet to be reinforced against collapse, using one of several safety methods. Employers must also provide a means of escape in case of a cave-in, like stairs or a ladder.
At a residential work site in Chicago, B & T allowed workers to excavate a six-foot trench without cave-in protections. The construction company also failed to protect workers from undermined sections of the street and sidewalk, which could have collapsed into the trench.
Studies have shown that workers are extremely vulnerable to injury while working near a highway or busy street. Yet workers at the B&T site were not required to wear hard hats or reflective vests to warn drivers about their presence, increasing the danger.
OSHA cited B&T for similar violations in 2011 and 2012, meaning the company received repeat violations for the current investigation. The proposed penalties totaled $76,340.
When management cuts corners, it is the workers who suffer. Therefore, it is up to them to demand change. If your employer is forcing you to work without proper protection, Larrimer & Larrimer can help. For more information on your legal options, follow our law firm on Facebook or Google Plus.
Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC—Columbus Workers Comp Attorneys